December 18th, 2013
10:30 PM ET

Group: Nearly 1,000 killed in Central African Republic

Nearly 1,000 men were killed over a two-day period this month in the Central African Republic, according to Amnesty International.

The human rights group said Wednesday that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in that country.

"Crimes that have been committed include extrajudicial executions, mutilation of bodies, intentional destruction of religious buildings such as mosques, and the forced displacement of massive numbers of people," said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International's Central Africa expert.

The country has seen violence and chaos since the Muslim-backed Seleka militia and other rebel groups from the marginalized northeast seized the capital Bangui in March. President Francios Bozize fled to Cameroon, and Michel Djotodia, who had been one of the Seleka leaders, made himself President.

Djotodia later officially disbanded the Seleka, but as many as 15,000 kept their arms and instead continued to wreak havoc in Bangui and elsewhere. They mainly targeted Christian communities, which in turn formed their own vigilante group, the anti-balaka (literally "anti-machete").

Anti-balaka forces staged an early morning attack in the capital on December 5, going door to door in some neighborhoods and killing approximately 60 Muslim men, Amnesty International said.

De facto government forces, known as ex-Seleka, retaliated against Christians, killing nearly 1,000 men over a two-day period, according to the rights group. A small number of women and children also were killed.

In a statement, Amnesty International called for the deployment of a "robust" U.N. peacekeeping force, with a mandate to protect civilians, and enough resources to do so effectively.

"The continuing violence, the extensive destruction of property, and the forced displacement of the population in Bangui are feeding enormous anger, hostility and mistrust," said Mukosa.

"There can be no prospect of ending the cycle of violence until the militias are disarmed and there is proper and effective protection for the thousands of civilians at risk in the country.

Residential neighborhoods must be made safe as an urgent priority in order to allow people to go back to their homes and resume their normal lives."

The Central African Republic is about the size of France and a country rich in resources, including diamonds, gold, timber and ivory. The former French colony has rarely seen political stability or economic growth in the 53 years since it gained independence.

Post by:
Filed under: Africa • Central African Republic
December 18th, 2013
03:57 AM ET

George Zimmerman's artwork tops $100,000

George Zimmerman can now add "painter" to his resume after the former neighborhood watchman purportedly listed an original painting on eBay.

The 18-by-24-inch canvas features a blue, waving American flag with the words, "God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all" emblazoned across it.

The auction was posted Monday at a starting bid of 99 cents and is scheduled to end Saturday. As of Tuesday night, 108 bids were logged for the painting, ratcheting the price up to $110,100. The next bid would top $110,200.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S.
December 18th, 2013
03:49 AM ET

Did you win $636 million lottery jackpot?

This holiday season just got a lot merrier for two insanely lucky people.

Two tickets matched the winning numbers in Tuesday night's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot.

One winning ticket was sold in Atlanta, and the other was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Megaball of 7. Twenty ticket holders will win $1 million after matching all the numbers except for the Megaball.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S.